Great Falls College graduates 202 students
Great Falls College graduated 202 students on Saturday, May 6, 2023.
Great Falls College MSU graduated 202 students Saturday, including many who received multiple degrees and 14 dual enrollment students who received their college degree weeks before graduating high school.
In all, Great Falls College awarded 249 certificates and degrees.
“I am so very proud of you all,” Dr. Stephanie Erdmann said at the celebration on Saturday at Montana ExpoPark Pacific Steel and Recycling Center Arena. “You have earned your degree and done so while juggling many other responsibilities.”
Erdmann then asked the graduates who worked full-time, were in the military or had a spouse who was deployed, raised children while in school or were the first in their family to receive a college degree to stand. A large majority of the graduates were standing.
“Congratulations, you have beaten the odds,” she said. “Your dedication and fortitude persevered over the challenges presented in your lives while attending Great Falls College.”
Elliot Paz, president of the Associated Students of Great Falls College, paid tribute to the graduates as well.
“You all have proved that you can rise beyond circumstances, and that spirit will allow you to fight through life’s challenges ahead,” he said. “After the ceremony, celebrate! You all deserve it for all the hard work that you put forward.”
Shanna Bulik-Chism, administrator of the Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center, gave the commencement address.
“Now that this tiny chapter in your life is almost over, a new and exciting chapter awaits,” she told the graduates. “Enter your career with enthusiasm and the willingness to absorb every learning opportunity that arises.”
The day started with eight American Indian students going through the Eagle Feather Ceremony.
The ceremony was led by Ashley Haley, Native American Enrichment Center ambassador at Great Falls College; Dugan Coburn, director of Indigenous education at Great Falls Public Schools; and TJ IronBear, youth development specialist at Great Falls Public Schools.
Coburn explained the significance of receiving an eagle feather, describing it as signaling the achievement of something great.
The students were then able to hold the feathers as they crossed the stage.
Erdmann also recognized the staff and faculty award winners at the commencement ceremony.
Marla McFerrin, a faculty member in the surgical technology program, received the teaching excellence award; Joleen Cordeiro, received the award for outstanding adjunct faculty; and Benjamin McKinley in maintenance received the award for staff excellence
The graduates also received River Otter T-shirts since the 2023 graduates are the first graduating class to be River Otters since Great Falls College adopted the mascot earlier this year.
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